NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Blu-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400
If you are looking for an action-packed way to consume sports on the weekend, NASCAR may be a great avenue to explore. Far from just driving in circles, some of the world's best compete nearly every weekend from February to November on tracks across America. NASCAR drivers are scored ultimately based on how they finish in the race, how many spots they advance from their starting position, and how many laps they finish and lead. Avoiding drivers who crash out of the race is a must, though!
numberFire is always your home for fantasy NASCAR advice. In addition to this helper, Jim Sannes takes a look at the best bets of the weekend in his betting guide. For driver picks and a full preview of the event, he also discussed this weekend's race on the latest NASCAR episode of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.
With all of this in mind, let's preview the Blu-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 at Martinsville Speedway on FanDuel.
|Practice||Friday, April 8th
4:30 p.m. EST
|Qualifying||Friday, April 8th
5:05 p.m. EST
This weekend's schedule is old school. Friday afternoon practice will be followed by Friday night qualifying.
Even though Denny Hamlin used brilliant strategy last week to steal the win, speed is what scored on FanDuel. All four drivers who led at least 60 laps on the afternoon were in the top-eight spots in practice. Three of those four were in the top-five spots of the 10-lap average charts.
That was a shocker, personally. Even on a shorter track with heavy tire wear, practice times were incredibly sticky to the best cars of the afternoon. That means, once again, it's more important to be malleable with which drivers end up fast in practice -- much more so than my rankings.
General Lineup Strategy
For the first time in 2022, we have back-to-back weeks with a mirroring strategy.
The schedule calls for 400 laps on Martinsville's 0.5-mile oval, and that means we'll want to jam in at least two -- if not three -- drivers who can lead significant laps and contend for the win.
Five drivers below $8,000 on FanDuel finished inside the top-20 spots last week. All five started inside the top-20 spots. Once again, we'll have to lean closer to the front than we usually do for value plays. This track is shorter and passing is even more difficult than what we saw last week.
Now, there is one argument for place-differential cars -- calamity. Martinsville is known for accidents. The last 20 events at Martinsville have averaged nine cautions, but all of those events were 500 laps.
Still, if we get a driver who was fast in practice but qualifies poorly, they're more justifiable this week given that a few incidents could slide them up the running order.
Below are my pre-qualifying rankings for each driver based on equipment, track history, recent form, and overall talent level in that order. Only drivers with a win probability above 0% in Jim Sannes' win simulations were included.
As a great indicator of overall speed, MLT Rank is the driver's average median lap time ranking at the relevant sample of similar race tracks to this weekend's. The prior races in the sample this week are: 2022 Phoenix (Spring).
For dominator viability, the driver is ranked 0-10 on a scale to potentially lead laps and win the race if they start upfront. A "10" is among the favorites to win the race, and a "0" has no realistic chance to lead the race at any point.
For flex play viability, the driver is ranked 0-10 on a scale to finish in terms of potential to finish inside the top-15 spots. These drivers will be better daily fantasy plays the further back in the field they start for optimal place-differential points.
Although he hasn't earned it with the finishes, Chase Elliott ($13,500) is my top driver once again at Martinsville.
Elliott was a winner back in 2020 at this circuit, and importantly, he's been flexing his speed on these short, flat ovals. Elliott had the fastest median lap time out in Phoenix, and he followed it up with the third-best time at Richmond. A bad set of adjustments tanked his finishing spot last week, but the speed is there at a track he can handle. He tops Jim's win simulations, too.
After leading 80 laps last week, Martin Truex Jr. ($14,000) should be a popular driver this week. He's won three of the last five at Martinsville, but he did have just the seventh-fastest median lap time at Richmond last week and couldn't find his way back to the front. He's a strong pick to dominate and win, but he'll likely be more popular than deserved.
Ryan Blaney ($13,000) led 128 laps last week at his worst track, continuing a strong 2022 run on this configuration. With a series-best average finish (5.8) the past three years at Martinsville, his salary was raised for good reason.
As a two-time Martinsville winner, Kyle Busch ($12,000) is someone I'd love to buy into if he's fast in practice. Busch posted the fastest median lap time last week in Richmond and likely would have won the race if not for a bizarre penalty.
It seems that Joey Logano ($11,500) pops out in Jim's simulations every week, but the last time the Cup Series was on an entirely flat surface, Logano won in Los Angeles back in February at "The Clash." He just hasn't flashed race-leading speed since then.
In the mid-range, William Byron ($10,500) should be a threat again. He posted two top-fives at Martinsville last season and has been lightning quick every weekend in 2022.
Both Ross Chastain ($9,000) and Tyler Reddick ($8,500) fell back to Earth a bit at Richmond -- both by speed and finish. With more in the drivers' hands at these short tracks, slower teams and programs were able to catch the pair. I'll buy in if either is fast in practice, but don't force their early-season results on different track types.
Statistically, this is the best track for Brad Keselowski ($8,000). He has top-five finishes in six of the last seven races here -- including a 2019 win. With both RFK Racing cars -- the other being Chris Buescher ($5,500) -- in the top-10 in terms of median lap times last week, it appears analytics guru David Smith has changed the team's point of emphasis to short, flat ovals.
In the value bin, rookies Austin Cindric ($6,500) and Harrison Burton ($3,000) are in the same equipment as Blaney, and the pair combined for four Martinsville Xfinity Series starts last season. Cindric's average finish was 4.0, and Burton's was 13.5. Both flashed top-20 speed and scored top-20 finishes last week.